Wrapping a gallery space at the 2020 NGV Triennial is a bowed pavilion of tessellating wood. A collaboration between renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma (previously) and Australian artist Geoff Nees, the large-scale installation is constructed with trees felled at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens during the millennium drought. The pointed slats interlock without the use of additional supports, a design derived from traditional Japanese joinery, and create a scaly pattern that allows light to stream through.
Titled “Botanical Pavilion,” the curved structure features foraged timber—some of which predates European colonization on the continent—arranged by color rather than species. “By prioritizing natural phenomena over scientific order, the designers call into question the reductive nature of science during the colonial era, a mindset at odds with many Indigenous cultural beliefs and knowledge systems,” a statement about the piece says. At both ends, the walkway opens up to reveal South Korean artist Lee Ufan’s 2017 painting titled “Dialogue.”
“The semi-circular shape of the pavilion invites the visitor into a journey to explore the space and experience the various essences of wood,” Kuma told Dezeen. “The porous structure is assembled like a tridimensional puzzle without the use of metal connections to be able to reassemble it in a different location.”